• Status: Solved
  • Priority: Medium
  • Security: Public
  • Views: 318
  • Last Modified:

Hard drives, who currently makes good ones, bad ones

I'm looking to buy a 1 to 2 TB, external hard drive.

This changes from year to year, so I need to ask about the current status.  Which manufacturers make good (meaning reliable--I don't care about speed) drives, and which ones make bad drives?   That's my main question.  Also, any suggestions on which drive to buy?

It appears that the going rate is about $140 for 2 TB vs. about $100 for 1 TB.  Cost is a huge factor for me.  Some claim to offer "256-bit encryption."  Isn't this just a bunch of nonsense?  Can't I just encrypt the drive using Windows XP?  Also, any opinions on the open source program TrueCrypt?

Thanks.
0
therearestupidquestions
Asked:
therearestupidquestions
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • +3
4 Solutions
 
Getsum_BloodlustCommented:
Firstly, never use windows to encrypt your data... always use a third party program.. TrueCrypt is probably ok. I use Advanced Encryption Package.. there are a lot of software encryption packages out there.. just choose the one that suits you.

Hard Drives.
Most, if not all brands are made is Japan now and are generally pretty good. Western Digital, Seagate would be the ones i would go with. But, if you are really unlucky, you will get a lemon.

If you want redundancy, get an external drive that has mirroring. this will allow a failure in one of the drives but you will pay a little extra for this luxury.
0
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
First, ALL DRIVES WILL FAIL.  There is NO ESCAPING this.

All GREAT brands of ANYTHING will make lemons

All HORRIBLE brands of ANYTHING will make products that at least a small percentage of people will find work reliably and well for the life of the product.

The trick is buying a product that MINIMIZES your change of getting a lemon.

That said, I buy probably a 10-20 drives a year and I DON'T CARE what brand I buy.  My concern is warranty.  3 or 5 years.  I do NOT buy drives with 1 year warranties and if the price difference is minimal than I'll get the 5 year drive.

I've got Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, Samsung, Toshiba, and probably others (those are the ones I remember off the top of my head.  Most of my 2 TB drives are Seagate 5900 RPM drives.

I've had exactly one failure in the last 2-3 years (that I can remember) and that was a samsung laptop drive.  And even that I'm not convinced failed (haven't actually thoroughly tested lately).

Because ALL DRIVES WILL FAIL (this is important to repeat), if the data is important, you use RAID 1 (mirror).  If it's not that important, than who cares.  No company is building a product that they WANT to fail, certainly not one they want to fail any time soon, given a 3-5 year warranty.
0
 
bdsuserCommented:
Windows Vista Ultimate/Business and Windows 7 Pro come with Bit Locker for encrypting your data.  I'm not a fan of TrueCrypt, but it does work well. I use TrueCrypt for USB flash drives.   It seems like there are too many steps in mounting a TrueCrypt drive.  But it is free, so I don't complain.  

I think low cost hard drives like you find at Best Buy and other local retailers are all about the same.  If you use some type of RAID for drive redundancy then I think these drives are fine.  Otherwise you need a better quality drive.  However, any drive can go bad regardless of age and brand, so RAID is the only way to go.  I've had lots of problems using Western Digital drives in a RAID array, so I don't recommend them.  

0
Concerto Cloud for Software Providers & ISVs

Can Concerto Cloud Services help you focus on evolving your application offerings, while delivering the best cloud experience to your customers? From DevOps to revenue models and customer support, the answer is yes!

Learn how Concerto can help you.

 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the fast responses.

Can I get some more thoughts from other experts?

Getsum Bloodlust said, "TrueCrypt is probably ok. I use Advanced Encryption Package.. there are a lot of software encryption packages out there.. just choose the one that suits you."  How do I know what  encryption package suits me?  You seem a bit hesitant to endorse TrueCrypt.  Why?

On encryption packages, in general, free (or nearly so, like $10) would be great.

Thanks again.

BTW, I may bump up the point value of this question if somebody gives me a good explanation of what I need to know about encryption.
0
 
Getsum_BloodlustCommented:
I wont endorse something i have never used..

What do you want the encryption for? do you want to encrypt at a file level or a drive level?
0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
Thanks, bdsuser.

Is your only complaint about TrueCrypt the number of steps required to mount the encrypted data as a pseudo-drive?  Does it provide good, solid encryption?  Would you be worried if a TrueCrypt protected drive was stolen?

I seem to remember years ago, like during the Clinton administration, a big bru-ha-ha about encryption.  There was big talk about limiting the legal key length, if I recall.  Is it now just assumed that intelligence agencies and police can crack any encryption (other than a one-time pad system)?  What ever happened to that issue?  By the way, I don't mean to imply that those are the entities I want to protect my data against.  It's thieves that concern me, but some of these guys may be ex-KGB, Etc., so I want solid protection.

Thanks.
0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
Getsum Bloodlust:

If I protect the entire drive, and one bit gets corrupted, then I can potentially lose everything, right?  Is there some advantage to protecting the entire drive?

I'm leaning toward creating multiple folders and protecting each independently.  That way, I think, if folder A gets corrupted, I'll still be able to get my folder B data.

Does this sound like reasonable thinking?

One of my original questions still stands, when manufacturers of drives brag about 256-bit hardware encryption, does this mean anything of significance, or is it just a BS, marketing ploy?

I'm bumping up the point value right now...and going to sleep.  To be continued.

Thanks all.
0
 
Getsum_BloodlustCommented:
if you want to keep some data on the drive not encrypted then drive encryption is a bad idea..

I wouldn't use manufacturers hardware encryption as it could potentially slow the drive down. it may also leave you with a complete drive encryption. stick with software encryption as you may have more control over it.
0
 
DavidCommented:
I wrote this paper over a year ago, which addresses HDD reliability.  The bottom line, the probability that your HDD will fail is 100%.  It doesn't matter what you buy when you only buy one disk.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Misc/A_2757-Disk-drive-reliability-overview.html
0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
Getsum Bloodlust:

You wrote:  "If you want to keep some data on the drive not encrypted then drive encryption is a bad idea."  Duh.  (That wording is a joke, not an attack on you.)
0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
Everybody:

(1) I'm bumping up the point value, doubling it in fact.  I want to make sure there are enough points to go around.  There's a good chance I'll bump it up again.

(2) I still want to know if there's some advantage to buying a hard drive that touts "256-bit encryption," Etc.

(3) This is a basic encryption question:  If the key is known to be 256 bits long, then there are 2^256 possibilities.  However, if I secure the password to that key with a 10 digit long string of characters, assuming they have to be upper-case letters, lower-case letters, or numerals, then the password has (26 + 26 + 10)^10 possibilities.  I don't have a calculator in front of me, but I'm guessing that the former number is way higher than the latter.  To crack the encryption doesn't the hacker only have to determine what the latter string is?  To make matters worse, for most people, the password is not truly (or even close to) random, making things even easier on the hacker?  Any flaw in this reasoning?

(4)  My original questions still remain.

Thanks everybody.
0
 
DavidCommented:
2) No benefits at all unless you turn on the feature.  That is the dirty little secret.  
3) A blank is part of a key every bit as much as a printable digit or letter of the alphabet.   Decryption algorithms, however, assume you will prioritize cap letters, blanks, and digits over lower-case letters and non-printable characters.  So the latter  is weaker as a general rule with larger percent of population.
4) You can encrypt anything you want to encrypt using numerous packages.  Make a decision based on convenience, price and features.   If you go opensource and have a problem you're screwed.  If you pay money to a company that provides support, you MAY need that someday.  

Nobody can tell you what is best for your situation.  Decide priorities, weigh features, then decide.

0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
I'm bumping up the point value again.
0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
Once again.
0
 
DavidCommented:
2) Embedded encryption is only a benefit if you use the feature.   If your computer / controller can turn it on at boot and manage it, then it is great because the entire disk is encrypted.  THERE IS NO PERFORMANCE DEGRADATION if the HDD does the encryption.  256 bits vs 4092 vs a billion bits of encryption doesn't matter, unless your data contains something that is so compelling that people will want to spend what it takes to try to get the data.

3) No.  It comes down to how many bytes the field is.  If the longest key that can be entered is 64 bytes, then even if you used a key of "ABC", then the entire key field is still 64 bytes long .... at least that is how the hardware encryption works.  a binary zero takes up the same number of bits as the letter A.    Of course, decryption algorithms are going to start with 8-bit long keys, and increase until the maximum length.

4) It depends, using hardware encryption, the HDD itself encrypts every bit automatically before it gets written on the HDD, and decrypts as it returns the information to you.  Software-based encryption varies, depending on the product.  They do the magic in a filter driver which is a layer of software.
0
 
therearestupidquestionsAuthor Commented:
I will award points in the next 2 days.  I'm currently printing all the threads I have going, even as I write this.  I'll award 500 points total.

Thank you all for your patience and advice.
0
 
TolomirAdministratorCommented:
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
0

Featured Post

What Security Threats Are We Predicting for 2018?

Cryptocurrency, IoT botnets, MFA, and more! Hackers are already planning their next big attacks for 2018. Learn what you might face, and how to defend against it with our 2018 security predictions.

  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • +3
Tackle projects and never again get stuck behind a technical roadblock.
Join Now